Breaking news – Gordon Brown has become a personal development guru! I’ll have to watch out for my customers…
In Cutting the Crap of Recession-Speak (Part 1) I contrasted the advice of entrepreneur Sir David Tang with our Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Tang urges small-but-optimistic thinking, whereas Brown preaches a kamikaze imprudent doctrine of spend, spent, spend.
Now it seems that Gordo has got on message. For this new attempt to harness positive psychology in the name of politics, see Brown warns against ‘pessimism’. But even here, he can’t resist the use of that histrionic, grandiose language that may well be one of the causes of the recession in the first place! For instance, he claims that the economic crisis should be treated as “the difficult birth-pangs of a new global order”. I find this kind of overtly Orwellian language disturbing.
Now, in the same vain, Brown urges global ‘confidence’. Wow. First optimism, now confidence. You’d think the economy was like a person, with feelings and self-esteem problems. And Brown is like a life-coach, whose task it is to work through the issue involved and recommend a personal development plan. I’ve talked before about the different metaphors employed to illustrate business, from game to war to adventure. Here’s another one: business as therapy.
So what’s my point about this recession-speak? In sum:
(1) People can be confident or optimistic; businesses or economies or states cannot. To state that they can is a form of madness confuses the issue.
(2) The best formula for a healthy economy is to have individuals within it who are economically healthy. This means encouraging self-reliance and entrepreneurship, at the same time as discouraging debt and government regulation. Brown only does talks of doing the first, and even then it’s a complete disaster half-heartedly.
(3) Brown talks up the downturn in order to talk up himself. He is the One Who Saved the World (or that’s the perception he wants anyway). The modern state has a messiah complex, often creating crises in order to then be seen as a saviour. This recession is a case in point. Hence the ridiculous language.
The state creates nothing, it produces nothing. People do these things, people in business, in industry, in manufacturing, in commerce. People like me. And what I want from super-Gordon is this – cut the crap, stand aside, and let us get on with it!